Fragmentation of Hope through Tiny Acts of Bureaucratic Cruelty - Another Kind of War on Afghan People Seeking Asylum in Sweden




asylum, hope, bureaucratic cruelty, departheid, ethnography


This article analyzes the micro-powers of Swedish “cruel” and “non-cruel” bureaucrats using various logics of control, “tiny acts” enacted with pens, computers, and imposed assignments to condition asylum-seeking peoples’ lives and fragment their hope. Based on interviews with asylum-seeking Afghans and observations of their meetings with authorities, I argue that the bureaucratic treatment of Afghans in Sweden is a form of state-sanctioned racist violence and “departheid” executed to exclude discredited people from the welfare state. The article draws attention to a rapid downhill slide regarding asylum rights in Sweden since 2015 and the harm caused to asylum-seeking people.


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Author Biography

Torun Elsrud, Department of Social Work, Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden

Torun Elsrud is an Associate Professor in Sociology at the Department of Social Work, Linnaeus University, in Kalmar, Sweden. She can be reached at


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How to Cite

Elsrud, T. (2023). Fragmentation of Hope through Tiny Acts of Bureaucratic Cruelty - Another Kind of War on Afghan People Seeking Asylum in Sweden. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 39(2), 1–17.

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